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MCM's statement on the expansion of the Safe Third Country Agreement and the closing of Roxham Rd

MCM strongly condemns the federal government's decision on March 24th, 2023 to expand the Safe Third County Agreement. The consequence of this is that almost all vulnerable migrants are blocked from making asylum claims not only at official crossings, but anywhere along the land border between Canada and the USA (e.g. at Roxham Road). 

MCM has taken this position for a number of reasons:
  • The expansion goes against Canada's obligations under international human rights law
  • Following a legal challenge, the Federal Court ruled that sending refugee claimants back to the USA under the Safe Third Country Agreement violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Government of Canada appealed this decision and the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in the summer of 2023. It is unacceptable that the government would seek to expand an agreement that has been found to be unconstitutional
  • The announcement of the expansion was made on March 24th and went into force at midnight that very same day creating confusion, and giving community groups no time to prepare accurate information or inform refugees of their rights and options
  • The expansion will not stop people arriving, rather it will make asylum seekers more vulnerable to abuse and force them to make riskier crossings, likely leading to more people being injured or killed
  • There is ample evidence to show that the USA is not a safe country for refugees, in particular due to the risks posed to groups such as women fleeing domestic violence and LGBTQ+ people, and the use of arbitrary detention
MCM calls on the federal government to not only remove the expansion from the Safe Third Country Agreement, but to halt its appeal to the Supreme Court and withdraw from the agreement altogether.

What is MCM doing?

MCM has continued with its ongoing advocacy work including as a participating member of Accueil des Demandeurs d’Asile au Québec (ADAQ), a coalition of organizations in Québec developed to advocate on behalf of refugees. 

MCM staff were active during the month of April to attend the daily protests in front of the riding office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at least once or twice per week. Many organisations participated to demonstrate their solidarity with refugee claimants and other vulnerable migrants. 

MCM staff members Paula, Peter, Rick, Lauren, and Anthony at protests throughout the month of April 2023. 

The advocacy efforts will continue on through the summer! MCM staff members are actively involved in efforts to organize a walk from Montreal to Roxham Road which will take place over 3 days from June 17-19. To learn more, see the most current details on the Facebook event, or fill out this webform to indicate your interest to either join the walk or support those walking (e.g. with food, accommodation, etc.).

Reaching safety in Canada is an obstacle course full of danger for the vast majority of people who walk across countries and continents to find safety. For these people, there is no line to wait in, no immigration program meant for them. Their only choice when faced with danger is to flee in the direction of safety, by boat, bus, and foot. Join us in this symbolic walk of 3 days – a significant commitment for us living in a safe country, a drop in the bucket compared to the journeys our asylum seeking sisters and brothers undertake.

Until March 25th, Roxham Road was the primary point of entry due to the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA). A small road amidst agricultural fields, Roxham Road became a symbol of hope for thousands for whom hope was otherwise denied. We march to Roxham Road as a symbolic action, to draw attention to the urgency of this issue and the humanitarian crisis asylum seekers face if immediate action is not taken to end the STCA.

Take action!

  • Join MCM, and many other organisations across Québec, in a symbolic 3-day walk from Montreal to Roxham Road to raise awareness about the erosion of refugee rights in Canada and show our renewed support for offering protection to refugee claimants and other vulnerable migrants. For more information see the event details here, or confirm your participation and/or support here

Learn more

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